Inside A Body

A collection of individual’s stories, experiences, and conversations…

This flesh, they tell me that it’s mine. They point to me and spell out those words, their mouths forming long O’s and wide A’s. This flesh, if I tug at it, if I carve into it, if I dispose of it, will never escape me. It will grow with me, grow on me and spore. If I choose not to love it, they will not take it away.

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Called Out

But, why?
I don’t know! That’s the problem.
So, you have absolutely no idea, whatsoever. No inkling, no spark, nothing.
Nothing, exactly. It’s blank in there. 

This was saved in a previous draft from before summer school started, and then…real school (not like summer school isn’t any less “real,” but I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to get at here). But, yes. Essentially, I fell off the updating wagon because I was busy trying to ensure my future maintained somewhat intact by going to school, nannying, applying for jobs, the works. Anyway, I have two stories, well, I definitely have at least one, I might end up editing the other again because I’m not completely happy with it (but am I ever with anything I write?). So, shall I kick off the end of the year with something a bit complicated? Why not.

-M

Collegiate Was

Hovering over her cracked porcelain mug, Franny frowned. I don’t know how you manage to do this every time, she said. She picked up the mug again, tilting it just enough to touch her lips, letting the liquid slide down the back of her throat. Grimacing, she examined the cup, her tongue pressing on the roof of her mouth in an attempt to rid the taste from her mouth. She set it back down on the table.

What? Elaine asked. She picked up the deck of cards and shook them out of the box.

Battery acid, that’s what it tastes like, Franny said. She pushed the mug away from her and crossed her arms on the table, the sleeves of her bulky patterned top scrunching against the folds of her bent elbows.

It’s fine. Like, I don’t know why you don’t just make it, Elaine said. She began shuffling, awkwardly bending the cards over one another in her small hands.

Franny cleared her throat. Have you figured out where yet?

Where what?

College. What schools?

There’s a list, Elaine replied. She slipped the cards in between one another. Somewhere outside a car alarm went off.

Do I get to hear it? Franny asked, spinning the mug around, coffee lapping up on the sides, and spilling over the lid onto the tip of her finger. She watched it, her brow furrowing. You know, it’s because you don’t know an exceptional roast from a terrible one.

Well, not all of us have been to Spain.

That has nothing to do with anything.

On the other hand, I can never find the one you like, they’re always out of stock.

So, how many are there?

I don’t know, I don’t stock the coffee.

No, schools, Franny said. Why would I ask that? That doesn’t make any sense.

Sorry, it’s late. I have a paper due in the morning. Elaine tightened her grip on the cards, pressing down on them as she attempted a bridge effect. I have about five though – Schools I mean. Stanford, Amherst, Brown, NYU. The cards fell out of her hands, the bridge collapsing on a king of hearts halfway through the maneuver. There might have been another, I don’t know.

Backups?

Sorry? Elaine quickly recovered the cards.

A safety school sort of thing. You know what I mean. Franny reached out across the table and placed her hand delicately on top of Elaine’s. Here, let me take that. She gestured for the cards, which Elaine handed over with hesitation.

NYU, I guess, Elaine said. She looked down at her hands and picked at a hangnail.

I’m being serious.

And I’m not?

Yeah, but you’ve never gone through this process before. Franny pressed her thumbs down on the cards with precision, letting them fold down on top of one another. I’m the same way. I used to be the same way.

I haven’t thought about any other schools.

I mean in the long run it makes sense because you apply here, you apply there, you get rejection letters – it’s inevitable. There’s always one though, where you you’ll get in. Like, I don’t know, a state school. UCLA even.

Well, you didn’t get rejected.

That’s different though.

It’s not different at all.

I mean, you’re in what the top 50%? That’s admirable.

Admirable?

Worthy of praise.

I know what admirable means, Elaine said. She leaned back against the paneling of the chair, the wood aching against her weight. I’m sorry, am I missing something here?

How have you distinguished yourself then? You’ve got all these impressive schools yet…

Is this an interrogation?

I’m just curious. I mean, this is the shit you have to think about when you’re applying.
Well, what is so impressive about you? Distinguish yourself.

I don’t have to.

Neither do I, Elaine said, shifting in her seat. Have I done something? Sometimes when I’m talking to you I feel like you’re not even hearing me, you’re there, there, but, look at the way you’re sitting, you’re so blasé. Exhausting. Want me to define it? She tugged on the sleeves of her oversized sweater, pulling on a snag in the fabric.

You should try sitting in on some of my courses. This coffee…

So, where do you think I should apply? I know you’re dying to tell me.

It’s fucking cold. Franny dipped her finger in the coffee, lifted it and licked it with the tip of her tongue. She turned and looked out the window.

Did you hear me?

Absolutely no flavor.

It’s been sitting out for ten minutes, of course its fucking cold.

Somewhere you can get in, I think that’s probably best. How about near me? You’d love Chicago.

You want me to apply to your school?

Don’t be ridiculous.

Why is that such an unbelievable statement? Elaine watched Franny take another sip from the mug, her lips pursing in displeasure. It’s not going to get any better, she said.

It never does. That’s not why I’m drinking it though.

Is it because I didn’t ace my SAT’s?

It’s admirable, Franny said. The coffee, anyway.

I think I’m going to take off. The paper, you know.

You should go where you have a chance to get in. Franny pushed herself back from the table, mug and deck in hand, and walked over to the coffee pot. She picked up the bag of coffee grounds, examining the back. Can you make another pot? She asked.

And I don’t have a chance at any of the schools I listed?

No, I mean, yes, but the backups.

Hand me the deck.

You don’t do it right.

I’m not going to give you the gratification of making another pot, when you didn’t even drink this one, Elaine said. She rose from her seat, grabbing her jacket off of the chair and wrapped it around her waist. I don’t have backups because I don’t need them. I know what I want.

You sound like you’re in high school. I’m just trying to make you understand. Understand that you aren’t miss perfect Ivy League okay?

So, I’m just not as good as you, right? That’s what you’re getting at. Elaine started towards the door.

You know what I mean. Franny turned, placing her arms behind her on the counter and hoisted herself up. She nodded towards the coffee pot and attempted a smile. Please, Just make it, she said.

Someday, you’re going to be the one standing here doing this.

And someday, you’re going to get it right.

In Fiction

She has a character, at least she believes she does. She sketches out a paragraph. She can picture her character down to the mismatched socks found under her bed in the early hours of the morning. Her closet is a mess, but her room always spotless. She colors her hair after a seemingly important event, takes scissors to it whenever she feels burdened by its length and heavy with regret, and trims it only after midnight. Her habits are understandable, and easy for her to write about. However, she lacks depth in the most relatable of circumstances, and comes off callous and sarcastic when expected to be sweet or romantic. This won’t do. What she doesn’t understand about her character is the charge behind her, or why she feels the need to say things to others that leave them bitter and unsure. This isn’t important though, because writing a complex character involves time and practice, far beyond the reaches of what a single paragraph can accomplish. The most imperative skill at this point involves experience of some sort, which she knows is required to move forward. The character remains the same over time, especially now, because a character is all she has. The environment is self explanatory, but the plot has changed drastically, and formed into a mundane flood she can’t reel in. This worries her because it is presumed her character will inevitably be rewritten and revised in the next few pages, but with what she is unsure. It feels like an echo building within her, the same woes with the same villains and same side characters developing beside one another. She scratches them out, hitting delete excessively until the page is clean. Her editors tell her that this is okay. She tries to believe them, but everything feels askew, as if all she knows now is the name of her character and not much else. This is problematic because now the style is slipping out of her grasp as she drums on her keyboard and processes what she knows, which is not a lot. 

Confessions, update 1

“I remember he said something about that,” Simon said smiling, pulling out a mangled toothpick from between his teeth. “How it’s better to be ruler of the losers than a slave to winners.” He pushed his hair out of his face, combing through the tangles with nail bitten fingers as he watched Delilah picking at the skin beneath her cuticles.

“It’s just embarrassing, is all,” Delilah replied. She took the cigarette from Simon, carefully rolling it across the pads of her thumb and index finger. The embers burned off layers of paper, crawling towards her, the charcoal remains chipping off and floating onto the pavement with the wind. “It’s like, I don’t even want to be here anyway,” she continued. She pressed the filter to her lips and inhaled until her mouth ballooned with smoke. She slid her tongue against the roof of her mouth and frowned, opening her mouth into an O, letting the smoke slide out in front of her.

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Leave Me to Forget You (working title), update 1

This is something I’ve been slowly working on since New Years. I’m attempting to write in Updike’s style, drawing inspiration in particular from The Happiest I’ve Been (which is a great short story if you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it, the last line is one of my favorites: And there was knowing that twice since midnight a person had trusted me enough to fall asleep beside me). I still need to work out some kinks in it, but this is a first draft of sorts:

I came for Ingrid carrying an unopened bottle of champagne, warmed from sitting in the passenger’s seat for a breezy forty-five-minute drive. I parked the car against the curb in front of her house and got out and looked up towards the sky, my hand shading my eyes, and I squinted up at the trees lithe with the wear of the cold that had knocked them sideways in the last storm. With care, I tucked the bottle in the folds of my coat and walked up to her door. When I knocked, Ingrid swung open the door wearing only a t-shirt and underwear and her hair was crowded in a tightened knot on top of her head. Something told me she had been waiting in the front room.

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Lessons on writing yourself into a hole…

The manga section of Barnes and Noble is particularly busy today. The smell? Pungent and sour, with the slightest hint of salty. A pair of socks dragged themselves through the carpet after a ten mile run through the sewers and fell asleep in the corner, where a permanent stain now resides. There are four characters that have wandered over in the past four hours. Differentiation between smell is tough, but luckily my eyes have adjusted to the hazy fog that fell over me when I sat down. At 2:08pm, a man with a blue pullover stopped short when he saw me shoved into a corner, hunched over my laptop with a look of contempt, and immediately took off his shoes. He picked them up carefully and placed them in between two bookcases only to skirt off down the comic book section. Now that his shoes are off, he is truly free to peruse the shelves. I don’t see him again until 2:30pm, where he drops down a few feet in front of me to grab volume four of Blood Lad. He turns the book over in his hands a few times and then leaves, nearly forgetting his shoes as he disappears towards the check-out desk. Around 2:45pm a girl in elephant pants approaches with a boy on her arm. They talk in low hushed voices. The girl picks up a Death Note book and says something under her breath. The boy lets go of her and tells her promptly that she looks great and doesn’t need to lose weight. He begins to mumble something else, clearly irritated. I give them a silent fist pump as they make their exit. I wish them the best. At 3pm the third character arrives, a rarity in this section. She’s embarrassed and red faced as she runs over to pick up a manga with a bunch of girls in practically no clothing on the cover. She flips through a few pages and nods to herself before pulling out her wallet and taking off towards the cashier. Why must we play these games blue-dress girl? Why? I respect her either way. Around 4pm, a man quite possibly the grandfather of time itself shuffles into the section. He looks as if he has fallen out of a Tolkien novel and has no idea how he ended up here. I’m writing furiously, practically smashing keys as I power through a fight scene, rigorously adding in dialogue tags and finding other words for “leaning.” He surveys me for a moment and then takes a step closer. I trust he knows that I’m not in fact a strange entity cursed to write in this corner forever (though I actually might be). He wanders over, searching the shelves and running his finger along the wood. Stopping short of the case, he reaches down and pulls out a tiny compact book. He sits down next to the shelf and for the next twenty minutes, cuddles up with book, the sweetest smile across his face. I don’t know who this guy is, but I want to be as happy as him someday. He is my new hero and I watch him out of the corner of my eye while pretending to write. When he leaves, he takes the sun with him and I’m left in the frozen wasteland that is this corner of Barnes and Noble.

What is this about though? What is the meaning of this? Simple. When I write myself into a hole, I set thirty minutes aside to do character studies of random people I see until I figure out how to properly transition in my story. I’ve figured it out now. So, signing off until I post the next section.

-M

Little Birds, update 1

“Something’s wrong,” he whispered, laying the bird down on the table. It slid out of his palms, its head bending backwards so the nape of its neck nearly touched the mantle beneath. The wings were fashioned like a cocoon, tucking the body away, the white feathers neither ruffled nor out of place as Wynn let it roll onto the counter. Audrey leaned forward over her homework and touched the bird anxiously, her index finger just barely pressing against its mangled right leg.

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